Around The Rink
The NHL season is down to its final week. Fantasy owners figure to see a plethora of back-up goalie starts, especially with a number of back-to-back tilts on tap. Up is down and down is up as poolies try to find out which teams will rest players. The Pittsburgh Penguins, for example, sat the likes of Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz in Colorado on Sunday. Something tells me they would have been in the lineup if the game meant anything to their playoff hopes – it didn’t.
Looking at teams fighting for the postseason, Dallas and Phoenix are separated by one point for the final Western Conference wild-card slot. Each team plays four times in Week 26. The Stars feature three games at home. Moreover, none are of the back-to-back variety. In a twist of irony, Dallas’s season could come down to a Game 82 matchup against the Coyotes in the desert.
Phoenix starts its final week with two road games Monday (Columbus) and Wednesday (Nashville) before closing with home games Saturday (San Jose) and Sunday (Dallas).
In the East, the picture is a little more clear. Detroit (88 points) and Columbus (87) sit as the conference’s seventh and eighth seeds. New Jersey (84), Toronto (84) and Washington (83) are still alive, but on life support.
The Red Wings play two times at home, but the Blue Jackets will need to earn their playoff trip – they are on the road for three of four tilts. The Devils hold a 20-10-8 home mark and finish with three of four games at home in Week 26. It might be wise to start New Jersey players during the last week.
The Maple Leafs play three times on the road, no need to pile on to their miserable conclusion. Washington hasn’t played much better. The Capitals play four games, including two at home, spread out with no back-to-backs.
On paper, it would appear that New Jersey has the best chance to pull a last-week upset. With a strong home record and three of four games ahead at home in Week 26, there are legitimate reasons to load up with Devils.
Daily Puck Info for 4/7/2014
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Calgary Flames (Karri Ramo) at New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider), 7:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Winnipeg Jets (Al Montoya), 8:00 PM
Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller) at Vancouver Canucks (Eddie Lack), 10:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Monday
Matt Stajan, C - Stajan (personal) has returned to Calgary and will miss the final three games of the team's road trip, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports. (4/3/2014)
Ladislav Smid, D - Smid suffered an upper-body injury during Friday's game against the Rangers and will not return, NHL.com's Aaron Vickers reports. (3/28/2014)
Dennis Wideman, D - Coach Bob Hartley said Wideman's (upper body) rehab program has been shut down, making him unlikely to return this season. (3/20/2014)
David Jones, RW - Jones (upper body) skated on his own Thursday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury March 3, NHL.com's Aaron Vickers reports. (3/27/2014)
Mikael Backlund, C - Backlund (hand) will not play in Friday's game against the Panthers, Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald reports. (4/4/2014)
Paul Byron, C - Byron (personal) is out for Friday's game against the Panthers. (4/4/2014)
Tyler Wotherspoon, D - Wotherspoon will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports. (4/2/2014)
Markus Granlund, C - Granlund (shoulder) skated on his own Wednesday morning, Aaron Vickers of NHL.com reports. (3/26/2014)
Michael Ferland, LW - Ferland underwent knee surgery Saturday and is expected to miss the rest of the season, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports. (1/18/2014)
Patrick Sieloff, D - After missing the first half of the season with a staph infection, Sieloff has been cleared for off-ice activities, the Calgary Sun reports. (1/17/2014)
New Jersey Devils
Jacob Josefson, C - Josefson (undisclosed) is out for Saturday's game, Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports. (4/5/2014)
Adam Henrique, C - Henrique (undisclosed) is out for Saturday's game, Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports. (4/5/2014)
Ryane Clowe, LW - GM Lou Lamoriello said the team is still viewing Clowe (head) as day-to-day, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. (4/6/2014)
Patrik Elias, LW - Elias (head) is out for Saturday's game, Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports. (4/5/2014)
Bryce Salvador, D - GM Lou Lamoriello said Salvador's injury is more than a day-to-day concern, suggesting the defenseman will be out for "a little longer," Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. (4/6/2014)
Keith Ballard, D - Ballard (groin) returned to practice Sunday, but isn't expected to play Monday at Phoenix, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (3/31/2014)
Josh Harding, G - Harding (illness) joined the team Wednesday for his first practice since January, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (4/2/2014)
Niklas Backstrom, G - Backstrom (abdomen) underwent a third procedure Tuesday and will officially be ruled out from returning this season, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. (3/26/2014)
Mikael Granlund, C - The Wild announced Thursday morning that Granlund will be out indefinitely with a head injury, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. (4/3/2014)
Jason Zucker, LW - Zucker underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a tendon in his left quadriceps. (3/26/2014)
Darcy Kuemper, G - Coach Mike Yeo said after Sunday's practice that he expects Kuemper (upper body) will be ready to play by the time the playoffs start, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. (4/6/2014)
Clayton Stoner, D - Stoner is considered week-to-week with a lower body injury, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Michael Russo reports. (3/23/2014)
Chris Thorburn, RW - Thornburn is out indefinitely with a fractured talus, according to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. (3/16/2014)
Dustin Byfuglien, D - Byfuglien left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury, the Canadian Press reports. (4/5/2014)
Mark Scheifele, C - Scheifele (knee) may resume skating in a few days. (4/3/2014)
Keaton Ellerby, D - Ellerby (lower body) is expected to miss his third straight game, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports. (4/3/2014)
Zach Bogosian, D - Bogosian (upper body) was absent from morning skate and appears likely to miss Thursday's game against the Sharks, Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press reports. (3/27/2014)
James Wright, C - Coach Paul Maurice said that Wright is dealing with an ankle sprain and will be out indefinitely. (3/3/2014)
Grant Clitsome, D - Clitsome has undergone season-ending back surgery, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports. (1/17/2014)
Al Montoya, G - Montoya (lower body) did not dress for Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout win over the Coyotes, the Winnipeg Sun reports. (4/2/2014)
Sheldon Souray, D - Souray, who has yet to play in 2013-14, will have season-ending wrist surgery Friday, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports. (1/16/2014)
Tim Jackman, RW - Jackman suffered a broken hand Friday, and the injury will require surgery, the Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (4/5/2014)
Mark Fistric, D - Fistric (lower body) is out of the lineup for Friday's game against the Oilers. (3/28/2014)
Cam Fowler, D - Fowler (leg) worked out on the ice Sunday morning, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (4/6/2014)
Stefan Noesen, C - Noesen is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. (10/14/2013)
Frederik Andersen, G - Andersen (upper body) is expected to resume practicing Tuesday, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (4/6/2014)
Hunter Shinkaruk, C - Shinkaruk will require major hip surgery and miss the rest of the WHL season, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports. (12/27/2013)
Andrew Alberts, D - Coach John Tortorella said Alberts (concussion) has been slow to recover and shouldn't be expected to return anytime soon, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports. (2/24/2014)
Yannick Weber, D - Weber (unspecified issue) returned to the ice Sunday, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports. (4/6/2014)
Mike Santorelli, C - Santorelli (shoulder) has undergone season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports. (1/30/2014)
Chris Tanev, D - Tanev will be out 3-4 weeks with a broken finger. (3/19/2014)
Jeremy Morin: The soon-to-be 23-year-old hasn’t been able to crack the Blackhawks’ lineup but injuries have given him a late chance. Morin totaled 15 games in the past three seasons before appearing in 21 contests this year. Overall, the winger has three goals and nine assists, but he’s been hot with two goals and two assists, during a three-game point streak, including a two-point effort Sunday. Morin figures to see more playing time in Chicago’s final three regular-season tilts.
Brandon Sutter: The center moved up with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup, rewarding fantasy owners with two goals against Colorado on Sunday night. One of his goals came courtesy of the man advantage, too. Should Pittsburgh hold Crosby back again in Week 26 – the team plays three times at home – then Sutter figures to see No. 1 power-play time. As for his long-term status with the Pens, he was nearly moved to Vancouver at the deadline and could be traded over the summer.
Ryan Murray: The 21-year-old defender returned two games ago after missing more than a month with a knee injury. Sunday night he netted his fourth goal of the season, a power-play marker. While he’s thought of as more of an overall, two-way blueliner, Murray could easily stay hot in his team’s four-game week ahead. Columbus is on the cusp of a rare playoff appearance; all hands and sticks will be on deck in Week 26.
Paul Stastny: The centerman saw his six-game point streak end Sunday night, but he’s played well since the Olympics break. Stastny is averaging better than a point per game since Sochi, with five goals and 16 points in 15 games. The Avs close with four road games in Week 26, but some teams will be experimenting with different lineups and Stastny figures to take advantage.
James Neal: It’s difficult listing cold players, if only because there’s a certain amount of randomness over a three-game stretch which doesn’t exist at the same level over a three-week stretch. Be that as it may, Neal hasn’t found the one-timers that made him such a weapon during the first half of 2013-14. It’s possible concussion-like symptoms have slowed him (or the absence of linemate, Evgeni Malkin), but whatever the reason, he has only two goals in his last 17 games.
Tomas Fleischmann: He showed an ability to produce, even with a middling team like the Florida Panthers, in past seasons. This year, Fleischmann was unable to get much going. After compiling 35 points in 48 games last year, the forward has collected just eight goals and 27 points in 77 tilts. Fleischmann is also pointless in his last six.
Travis Zajac: Zajac has four goals and six points in the last two weeks and is only owned in 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He’s getting hot at the right time and is worth consideration in Week 26.